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São Paulo | The Triumvirate of Transport

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Topic: Who runs the São Paulo bus system?

by  Guilherme Boulos

Source: Viomundo

Originally published in the Folha de S. Paulo.

Translated excerpt by C. Brayton

The predominant force in the city bus service is José Ruas Vaz, also known as “The Baron of the Asphalt” or “The Pope of the Turnstyles.” He is the founder of the Ruas Group, which controls no less than 53% of the rolling stock and receives 56% of the public funding. He also controls bus transport in Guarulhos and other cities in the greater metro area.

Vaz is a man of many enterprises, all of them oddly interrelated. He is, for example, a partner in the consortium that manages advertising at bus stops and the owner of Caio Induscar, which supplies bus chassis to its own sister companies as well as to competitors. If a sector as monopolistic as this can be said to have competitors, that is.

Ruas Group is also known for filing for the bankruptcy of debt-laden companies and then refounding them in order to make it difficult to collect its debts. In 2013 it faced 242 cases of execution for debt. Its pension plan contribution to the INSS reached R$ 750,000.

This is the gang that rules supreme over public transport in the largest city in Brazil.

Another major player in this area is Belarmino Marta, owner of the Belarmino Group, which comprises more than 20 companies that control public transport in various cities, as well as a portion of the capital city.

Along with Ruas Group, Belarmino is owner and partner in a number of Mercedes Benz concession-holders. Mercedes furnishes 65% of city buses.

A Mercedes sales director, testifying to the parliamentary inquiry (CPI) into the transport scriminalityector, produced the following pearl of wisdom: “They sell the bus and microbus chassis to themselves.” Clever, is it not?

The level of cartelization and criminality in the sector has become self-evident. Zero transparency. They have turned a public concession into a means to extort society.

Fares can and should be cut. But where to cut? The profits of the concessionaires, together with a thorough-going reform in the management of urban transportation. The creation of a public transportation company that would manage the system directly is an urgent and necessary measure.

Profitablity does not combine well with quality. A for-profit transport system means that riders must cope with overcrowding and expensive fares. An example of this is the bizzare practice of paying the buses according to the number of passengers carried rather than distance covered. In other words, it is a matter of carrying more people at a lower cost. The result is overcrowding.

Popular demonstrations and the new round of auctions for transport contracts scheduled for March represent an opportunity to question this logic, to begin treating public transport as a right.

What remains to be seen is whether anyone will have the courage.

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Rio: “Van Plan Foe Was Dropped By Cop”

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Above: Underground Rio van service vehicle, loaded with black-clad corpses wearing combat boots. See Rio de Janeiro: “Carobinha Death Toll Reaches 10″

A childhood friend — we used to play Stock Market while listening to the White Album over and over and over as kids — recently wrote me through Facebook, asking for advice to pass on to a colleague who will spend Carnaval in Rio this year.

Number one on the list of directives: Never hail a taxi on the street. The infamousSimpsons episode on Rio — which offended many Brazilians — was actually directly on point on this subject.

Ideally, hire a cab through the doorman of your hotel — make him your friend! –and make a side deal with the same trusted driver to drop you off and pick you up wherever you are going.

Top story in the O Globo daily of Rio this morning: 4,000 pirate cabs still in operation.

And as a sidebar, another apparent assassination involving the other major branch of black-market transportation in Rio: underground van services.

Favela residents really heavily on VW vans to get around parts of the city where no formal bus services is provided.

The services are controlled by “militias” — paramilitary protection rackets comprising cops and firemen supplementing their income, mainly — and the turf battles get ugly. See

I translate in haste para inglês ver.

RIO – A polícia prendeu nesta quarta-feira o suspeito de ter matado o subsecretário de Transportes de Niterói , Adhemar Reis, no dia 20 de janeiro. O sargento da Polícia Militar Adair Correia da Silva Filho, conhecido como Daizinho, foi preso pela manhã no 35º BPM (Itaboraí), onde é lotado. O delegado responsável pelo caso, Mario da Silva, da 77ª DP (Icaraí), investiga também quem seria o mandante do crime. Adair Correia já havia sido preso em novembro de 2008, acusado de envolvimento com a máfia das vans no município de São Gonçalo, mas continuava na ativa.

The police arrested a suspect Wednesday in the 20 January murder of Niterói municipal transportation undersecretary Adhemar Reis. Military police sergeant Adair “Daizinho” Correia da Silva Filho was arrested Wednesday morning at the 35th Military Police Battalion in Itaboraí where he is stationed. The state judicial police official in charge of the case, Mario da Silva of the 77th Precinct in Icaraí, is also looking into who may have ordered the crime. Daizinho had previously been arrested in November 2008, accused of involvement in the “van mafia” in São Gonçalvo, but remained on active duty.

Niteroí is a neighboring city connected to Rio by the famous causeway — one of the “Pharaonic labors” of the generalíssimo regime, 1964-1985.

(Gilson: Acusado denunciou crimes e teve prisão revogada em 2009)

[RELATED STORY LINK] Gilson: Accused denounced crimes and was released in 2009.

– Acreditamos que o PM não tenha assassinado o subsecretário por uma motivação pessoal. As investigações apontam que ele foi contratado para executar visando aos interesses ilícitos de uma outra pessoa ou até de um grupo – disse o delegado.

“We believe the policeman did not murder the official for personal reasons. Investigations indicate that he was hired to execute the man in order to serve the illegal interests of another individual, or possibly a group of individuals,” the investigator said.

Segundo a policia, o sargento vai responder pelo crime de homicídio qualificado e pode ser condenado a 30 anos de prisão. O preso foi levado ao Batalhão Especial Prisional, onde deverá cumprir a prisão temporária de 30 dias. Procurada, a PM não respondeu por que o sargento continuava na ativa, mesmo acusado de diversos crimes.

Police say the sergeant will be tried for first degree murder and could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. The prisoner was taken to the Special Detention Battalion of the military police, where he will serve a temporary detainment of 30 days. Sought for comment, the military police did not respond to the question of why the sergeant remained on active duty despite being accused of various crimes.

That is, the Policia Civil want him tried by a civilian court on a common criminal charge. Typically, the Polícia Militar will want him tried by a military court — courts notoriously reluctant to convict their comrades in arms. That is why he is being housed in disciplinary barracks rather than a common jail.

– Os autos indicam que o crime foi premeditado e foi praticado com o objetivo de garantir vantagens ilícitas. Além do mais, a vítima não teve a menor possibilidade de defesa – explicou o delegado Mario da Silva.

“The case file indicates that the crime was premeditated and carried out for the purpose of obtaining illegal advantages. Furthermore, the victim had no opportunity to defend himself,” said da Silva.

“… for the purpose of obtaining illegal advantages”: for money.

O preso foi reconhecido por testemunhas .O acusado já tentou duas vezes se eleger vereador por São Gonçalo, sem sucesso. Ele também já havia sido preso em sua casa, naquele município, em novembro de 2008, por agentes da Delegacia Repressão às Ações Criminosas Organizadas (Draco) que cumpriam mandados de prisão contra envolvidos com a máfia das vans.

The accused was recognized by witnesses to the crime. He had run unsuccessfully for the  São Gonçalo city council on two occasions. He had also been arrested at his home in November 2008 by agents of DRACO, the anti-organized crime division of the state judicial police, as they served arrest warrants on persons suspected of involvement in the van mafia.

State and city politics + cops + militias + traditional organized crime = the Brazilian version of Colombian parapolítica.

Source: O Globo, 4 February 2010.